Interview with Ted Feldman from Bear Hands

By: Morgan Bates
Photo Credit: Nina Westervelt

Ever since making a grand entrance with “Giants” in 2014, indie rock band Bear Hands has been blasting through the speakers of devotees old and new. Keeping us hungry and eager for more.

When the release of their newest album “You’ll Pay For This” was announced, I honestly had no idea how they were going to top their previously amazing album “Distraction.” But, as soon as their single “2 A.M.” was released I was sold! I knew that getting my hands on this album was not an option! It was a necessity.

You’ll Pay For This” is a tremendous step forward for Bear Hands. This album is deeply lyrical and intense while remaining relatable and sometimes humorous, especially to those of us in our later 20’s. Lyrics to songs like “2 A.M.,” “Boss,” “I Won’t Pay,” and “Marathon Man” are not the only thing that makes this album exceptional. The experimental sound complete with synths, guitar, and keyboard makes this record brilliantly groovy with a modern and confident flair. This is one album that you’ll listen to from beginning to end without even the smallest urge of hitting skip once!

Naturally, as a woman in my late 20’s I was curious as to how Bear Hands got in my head. It was like they knew exactly where I was at this point of my life and what I needed to hear playing through my headphones. So when, I talked to guitarist and songwriter Ted Feldman, I got the chance to chat with him about the inspiration and creative process for the album, their fun and awesome music videos, and he even shared with me a crazy story about how sometimes the trip home from a festival is no easy feat!

Bear Hands is breaking the mold and showing the world that this crazy thing called life is constantly changing, way too interesting, and certainly too short to be cookie cutter.

(Morgan) Hey Ted How are you?!

(Ted) How ya doin?!

(Morgan) Awesome are you guys in New York right now?

(Ted) Actually I’m in Los Angeles at the moment.

bear-hands(Morgan) Awesome is it nice and warm there?!

(Ted) It is beautiful and sunny and there’s a cool breeze. Pretty good yeah!

(Morgan) Nice! Its crazy hot here in Jacksonville!!

(Ted) Not bad!

(Morgan) I want to talk about your new album “You’ll Pay For This” but, before we do that, can you tell me a little bit about how you and the guys met and started Bear Hands?

(Ted) Sure! I went to college with singer Dylan and the summer of my freshman year we were in New York and he asked me if I wanted to go play with a band. So we went to the practice space and I met these two guys that he knew from Connecticut growing up that were living in Brooklyn and it went really nice and easy for our first practice and we just been doin’ it ever since. It’s been nearly a decade. It was very lucky!

(Morgan) On to your album “You’ll Pay For This” I actually preordered the album a couple of weeks ago. It’s crazy awesome!

(Ted) Thank you!

(Morgan) Can you tell me a little bit about the album and maybe how you came up with some of the ideas for the songs? Were there any major life events or anything specific that inspired the songs for the album?

(Ted) Yeah there were definitely life events that are referenced into most of the songs. But, there wasn’t no specific event like a bad breakup that caused me to go home and write a song or anything like that. I think we had a sort of a concentrated period of time to write the record for the first time. So I guess it captured a moment in our lives. Late 20’s early 30’s that I think a lot of people can experience. I’ve been in a relationship for a long time. A few of have but, I feel like that looking toward marriage one day, some looking back, and some moving and looking forward. But I don’t think there was any specific life event to write about.

(Morgan) When you guys do sit down to start writing for an album, what’s that like? Do you guys look yourselves up or have any writing session traditions?

(Ted) There is some time that I spend alone coming up with little musical nuggets or sort of lyrical nuggets and Dylan does the same on his own. Then we get together and take a bunch of speed and spend like three days hacking away at what we’ve got and try to make them into songs and then we leave spend a week apart and do it all over again.

That’s one way to do it! I don’t write music myself but I have always envisioned artists getting together and locking themselves in a room until it’s all done. I really think it’s awesome that ya’ll do that and then spend time apart before coming back to it!

(Ted) Yeah! Oddly I think that’s a much healthier way to get perspective and focus. But, we do all sit in a room together and just try and jam it out. It’s sort of aimless. We’ve learned that this is the way.

(Morgan) I’ve also heard that when you guys play a show or live, you won’t talk about the set right then and there. Ya’ll will wait a day or so to talk about it. Does that make it easier to get along on things & help you get to the next show?

(Ted) Yeah you know, you’re emotions run high when you’re playing a show. Whether it’s good or ya know when mistakes are made or whatever, it’s just not helpful to criticize or critique immediately after. It’s better to enjoy the night and then reflect on it the next day when heads are cool. There’s a lot of managing emotions when you’re in a band.

(Morgan) I could only imagine! Back to your album. Do you consider this to be a more mature album than previous albums like “Distraction?”

(Ted) Yeah I guess so. I think we’ve all matured in life. And there was definitely an attempt to make songs that were more deep and deeply involved lyrically and musically and in form. Yeah, definitely an attempt to go deeper so I hope it’s more mature!

(Morgan) You guys have been previously titled as “Artists On The Rise.” Do you think the band has reached new heights with this album?

(Ted) I definitely think that we’ve reached a new rung on the latter but, I imagine we will be climbing the latter for a while. We haven’t dominated the world or anything! On a musical level, I feel it’s a step up and I think that we had a decent amount of success with the last record to the point where people were waiting to hear the next one. Which is an amazing thing! So hopefully we keep growing the number of fans and those who liked us before stick with us. I banking on that!

(Morgan) Well I hope that for you guys too! I don’t think you’ll have any trouble with that! Ya’ll are fantastic!

(Ted) Thank you

2016_0210_9662_3611(Morgan) I know you guys are heading out on tour soon! What’s it like travelling and sharing you music with fans new and old?

(Ted) It’s very exciting to play new songs. We’ve played 2 of the songs on the road for about three weeks and now we’ve got 10 more new ones available to play! We sort of had a limited number of songs we could play up until now with two records, two EP’s and there were only so many to choose from. And now we’ve got a whole lot and that’s exciting. To play new stuff is rejuvenating and reinvigorating for us. But, touring and meeting new people is always really fun and it’s also really exhausting. So I’m really looking forward to it!

(Morgan) Well I know that we here in Jacksonville are really looking forward to having you here at Rock on the River! Are you playing at any other big festivals this year?! Did you get to play at Coachella?!

(Ted) No, I did attend Coachella last weekend and saw some friends and some good music but, we didn’t get to play this year. We’re playing at a festival on our way to Jacksonville though called Hangout in Alabama. Very cool! And we’re doing a bunch of radio festivals Rock on the River. We’re doing one in L.A., Chicago, and all over.

(Morgan) I actually saw you guys in Chicago back in 2014 at Lollapalooza. It was such a great show! I think Dylan’s nails were painted blue too..

(Ted) Yeah… he does that!

(Morgan) Speaking of touring.. Even though “They” say life is about the journey and not the destination. Are there any big destinations (other than Jacksonville of course!) on this tour that you’re really looking forward to playing?

(Ted) Let me think. The Gulf Shores one for sure. I’ve never been there and that sounds pretty wild. We’re also playing New York which is our home for the first time in a long time. That’s in a couple of weeks so that will be fun. California is always nice. Chicago, and then there are a lot of places in between too that we’re playing that I’ve never been to. Chattanooga, I’ve never been to.

(Morgan) That’s a lot of different places! How does all of that traveling affect you guys? Do you get sick of it by the end of the tour is it just autopilot mode?

(Ted) You get homesick and it’s naturally exhausting to travel so much. But, it’s also at this point a second home for us. So there’s a certain comfort level when being on the road. We’ve been doing it for many years now. You get back in the van and get into the rhythm of the stops at gas stations and the hotels that become your kitchen and living room and it becomes home.

(Morgan) I know that there is a story out there about one of the guys putting diesel in the van but, I know for you guys that story has be played out. Are there any other fun goofy stories like that from being on the road?

(Ted) Well we haven’t really been on the road. We did a smaller tour in March. But, last year we did a couple of festivals that we had to fly to and there was one where a few of us didn’t get allowed back on the plane for the return flight. They were deemed too inebriated which was debatable. It was pretty unfair. They were totally fine to fly. But somebody decided that it wasn’t gonna happen. And we couldn’t really argue because the more you argue the worse you look. But yeah, there were five of us that went out there and only Dylan and I made it back!

(Morgan) Why didn’t they use the excuse” Flying makes me anxious and it helps if I have a drink before the flight?!”

(Ted) Well what’s upsetting is they had a drink at the bar at the airport! So there should be some kind of rule that if the bartender thinks you’re ok to have a drink then, why shouldn’t you be allowed to get on the plane?! It’s not fun to have to wait for the next flight like, 6 hours later. But, ya know I got home just fine!

(Morgan) You guys are known for your amazing music videos as well! Can you tell me a little bit about the “2 A.M.” video? How did you guys come up with the concept of the party and having all the party goers holding up the lyrics? It was so cool!

(Ted) I’m so glad you like it! You know, I am involved in a lot of the videos but, not this one. We had these two filmmakers who made a lyric video for our song “Agora” from our last record that we really really liked. So we all participated but, really it was all their creative juice that went into it. I think they did a great job!

(Morgan) I saw you guys in the video in bits and pieces! Was it a real party or was it just set up that way?

(Ted) No, no! We just threw a party with some of our friends and they invited a bunch of their friends and they just went around and passed out these cards that they made. Yeah, it was a party. It was a fun party!

(Morgan) Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I am really looking forward to seeing you and the guys here in Jacksonville!

For more about Bare Hands:

Check out Bear Hands – 2AM.   “You’ll Pay for This” is in stores now.

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